39 Stripes Beyond Legality

Posted on May 27, 2019

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39 Stripes Beyond Legality

Are you doing well in the things that matter? Do you even know the things that matter? The Bible says that the things that are seen are temporal, but those things which are not seen are not only spiritual, they are also eternal. Jesus said, “Without me ye can do nothing”, yet men have done great things without even knowing Jesus. Does that mean that Jesus was lying? No, it only means that any thing that will be of eternal worth cannot be done outside of Christ. That then means that eternal things are the things that are worthwhile. Things that will transcend time and space, which will go beyond this terrestrial world, are the things that matter; and those are the areas where we should begin to spend our lives which we call time, on. We devalue life when we call it time. Once again, are you really doing well in the things that matter?

As God’s Children, He says we should follow after charity; we should pursue holiness, and follow peace with all men. This means that these things are elusive, so we need to follow after them and make them our own pursuit. Are you following after money, jobs, popularity, etc? These things are not bad in themselves, but they should not be our main pursuit, because they are temporal. Hearing a good message on love cannot make you to love people;you have to work it out for you to love!

2 Cor. 11:24    Of the Jews fives times received I forty stripes save one. Why 39 Stripes?

Deut. 25:1-3 “If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked.  And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee”.

The maximum number of stripes that an offender could be beaten was 39 stripes. Historically, research has found out that the reason why many people were beaten 39 stripes instead of 40 Stripes were:

  1. The whip that was used was a whip that had three stripes, so each beating was regarded as 3 stripes. By the thirteenth time, the beating was already 39 stripes.
  2. The Pharisees considered that they could make a mistake while counting the number of stripes an offender was being beaten. So instead of offending God by beating the offender more than 40 stripes, they would rather stop at 39 stripes.

Matt. 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

Jesus had a case against the Pharisees that they acted as stumbling blocks in the ways of people who wanted to serve God. The Pharisees were the religious leaders of the time of Jesus, but the kind of rebuke Jesus gave them showed how very far they were from being men of God. Yet, as despicable as they were, they feared God enough not to dehumanize their brothers who offended, even when there was a justification to dehumanize them.They left a small slit; peradventure they crossed the line, even though they were a people who operated under the law.

Mat 5:20 “For I say  unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven”.  You need to be reminded that the path to heaven is still narrow, no matter what any preacher says. Jesus said, “You will in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven, except your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees”. If the Pharisees, whose righteousness Jesus does not accept, could leave a slit in order not to dehumanize their brother, how can you as a Christian under grace want your brother who has offended you to pay the full price for his sins? Love without correction is stupidity and self-deceit, but correction without love is sheer wickedness. How do you react when your brother falls into sin? Are you more interested in correcting him or in disgracing him?God is watching your heart, and if your aim is to humiliate your brother because he had hurt you, you will in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven.

Learn to leave a slit in all that you do. Inasmuch as cement and sand which are not living things seem to expand over time, slits are left in case of expansions, so that a building will not collapse. Learn how to leave a slit, so that you can accommodate offences that will be done against you. It is good to be confident that we can forgive any offence, but the kind of confidence we need most is God-confidence, not self-confidence.

Jesus came to introduce a new dimension of living to humanity. He had to start from Israel, the choice people of God, but they already knew God in a form and fashion and level, so He was introducing something completely new to them. He chose a platform to introduce the coming kingdom to them in a very powerful way, but that way was very radical and revolutionary. The Jews found it difficult to receive the new dimension of message that Jesus brought, and that is why so many Jews have not received the Gospel till today.

Mat. 5:17-20 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven”.

Even though the Pharisees left a slit in dealing with their brethren so that they would not dehumanize them as God commanded, they were not doing well enough. In your day to day living, you must do better than the Pharisees, in dealing with your brethren. This means that we must leave a slit when relating with our brethren, else we will not be able to live as a Christian community.

Mat 5: 21-28 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart”.

What Jesus gave was a revolution in the law. He made them to understand that murder was not only when one killed his brother physically; but also when we think evil of our brethren; we are liable to go to hellfire. Jesus also makes it clear that adultery is not limited to only the physical sexual act between two people who are not each other’s spouse, but even the desire (lust) for someone other than one’s spouse, amounted to adultery before God. God looks more into our heart. Don’t we still call our brethren names? God says we will be liable to go to hell for that.

29-32 “And if thy right eye offends thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

Christianity is beyond legality. Jesus makes us to understand that in the kingdom of heaven, the laws guiding are far higher than the Old Testament law. In the Old Testament, a man could divorce his wife by merely ensuring to give her a bill of divorcement; but in this law of grace, a man could not do that because even his conscience would judge him since divorce was never in God’s plan from the beginning. God views a man who divorces his wife as a moral failure because he chose to make his wife to become an adulteress.

Righteousness is beyond legality. How do you live your life? Do you accept blank receipts where you purchase something for your office and fill whatever amount you like? You may think you are legal to present a receipt of purchase to your company, but God knows that you are a thief, and your conscience will judge you too.

38-48 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

How do you react when someone hurts you? Do you masquerade revenge under “fall and die” prayers? You are a moral failure if you do that. Christianity says that you can do without killing a person even when you have the right to do so. Anytime you try to use up your rights as a Christian, you will always go wrong. Christianity is not about “my rights”, it is about “being right”. When somebody offends you, that is an opportunity to present Christ to the person, to show that you are from another kingdom. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer. That is the only way to show the life of Christ in you.

1 Cor. 10:23-24 “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth”. Christianity is not legality, therefore we cannot just live our lives to get by, but to live well, and leave a slit so that others will not fall because of us.

I heard the case of a woman who needed a driver, and therefore placed an advert for one. Three men applied and came to be interviewed by her. Her interview was just one question for each of them at their turns. She asked the first man, “How close to the edge of a gutter can you drive as a good and accurate driver?” The man answered, “Ma, I am very good at driving; I can drive at half an inch close to the gutter without falling into it.”

She asked the second man the same question and he said he could drive at quarter of an inch close to the gutter without an accident. When the third man was asked the same question, he replied, “madam, you should have asked me how close to the middle of the road do I drive, because I don’t drive close to gutters”. This last applicant was the one that got the job. Don’t live just to get by, live well, not based on legalities or exceptions.

As a Christian man or woman who is engaged to be married,don’t say that you and your spouse-to-be will kiss only, you will not touch each other. Don’t lips touch before they kiss? Don’t you say you can touch yourselves but you won’t undress? You are guilty all the same, you’ve got to go beyond that level; don’t just get by, live well, and help others to live well too. Do you have to calculate 10% out of your income before you will pay your tithe? That level is too low for you as a child of God. Have you forgotten that God owns both you and the money you think you have?

There was a time a young man cheated on me when he helped me to purchase a car. I groaned to God, reminding Him that I don’t cheat on people, so why would the young man cheat me? Do you know what God told me? He said to me, “shut up, how much is your salary? Where did you get such money that you were cheated of? How many of your colleagues have such money?” I said,“Lord, I am sorry”. I had forgotten that it was by God’s grace I could have  such money. What I later did was to buy some food and clothes, and gave to the young man. I forgave him and vowed never to look at him as a thief.

1 Cor. 10:32-33 “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved”. Don’t be callous in your exercise of freedom in Christ; don’t be insensitive to other people’s needs. Don’t say you have the liberty to do anything or wear anything; you would be insensitive to other people’s needs and may even cause someone to perish.

Jesus was supposed to have His disciples serve Him and wash His feet, but He chose to serve them and wash their feet. He submitted Himself to take on the simplicity of mere man, subsuming His right to Godhood under the Father, so that He could save all who came to Him. Therefore your exercise of liberty must not be hindrance to others. We need to change our ways and leave a slit for others. It is only when we are love-full that we will be lawful.

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